Mon. Jan 24th, 2022

Chinese officials have vowed to alleviate food shortages in Xi’an for residents locked in their homes as the country battles its worst Covid-19 outbreak since the pandemic began in Wuhan two years ago.

Residents of the central Chinese city of 13m complained on social media that their food stores are running low and that it is difficult to buy more supplies as shops have closed and movement has been sharply curtailed.

In many parts of the city, residents are only allowed to leave their homes for mandatory Covid-19 testing and have to rely on spotless delivery services to replenish supplies.

“The shops here are not open, if they were open, we still could not go down,” said one Xi’an resident on Weibo, the social media platform.

“All we can do is add the store owners’ WeChats and sneak out at night. “Buying food is like being a thief,” the person added.

A video of the city’s epidemic prevention workers beating a resident for leaving his apartment to buy food went viral on social media last week. The clip shows half a dozen steamed sandwiches spilling from the man’s pocket while workers pushed him.

City police said on Saturday they had detained the two workers who attacked the man and fined each of them Rmb200 ($ 31).

Another resident in the city complained that he paid Rmb150 for a bag of vegetables, while others said they had problems obtaining medicine and other necessities.

“For next steps, we will continue to strengthen the quality, price and supply of goods for people, and increase our care and support for special groups,” said Lin Jianwen, a top city official.

He added that the government delivers bags of free vegetables to hundreds of apartment complexes.

The number of cases in Xi’an is small compared to infection rates in most other countries with 122 new cases reported on Saturday. But the Chinese Communist Party treated each outbreak as a crisis as it sought to maintain the country’s “zero-covid” strategy.

The outbreak has infected 1,53 people in the city since mid-December and nearly 96 percent of residents have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Some manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics and Micron Technology, have warned that the lock-in measures could disrupt their chip production in the region.

Officials have blamed the Delta variant for the Xi’an outbreak and are determined to keep Omicron out of the country ahead of the February 4 Winter Olympics in Beijing under strict “bubble” protocols.

Chinese authorities reported 131 new community-spread cases of Covid-19 in the country on Saturday, down from 175 the previous day.

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